A photoacoustic imaging system that incorporates a commercial ultrasonic camera for real-time imaging of two-dimensional (2-D) projection planes in tissue at video rate is presented. The system uses a Q-switched frequency-doubled Nd:YAG pulsed laser for photoacoustic generation. The ultrasonic camera consists of a 2-D CCD chip with piezoelectric sensing elements used for detecting the photoacoustic pressure distribution radiated from the target. An ultrasonic lens system is placed in front of the chip to collect the incoming photoacoustic waves, providing the ability for focusing and imaging at different depths. Compared with other existing photoacoustic imaging techniques, the camera-based system is attractive because it is relatively inexpensive and compact, and it can be tailored for real-time clinical imaging applications. Experimental results detailing the real-time photoacoustic imaging of rubber strings and buried absorbing targets in chicken breast tissue are presented, and the spatial resolution of the system is quantified.